Tensions were high the afternoon of Nov. 15 when news suddenly broke that missiles had struck an area in Poland bordering Western Ukraine.
The fear was that if the weapons were fired by the Russian Federation, the event may spark an immediate and material showdown between Vladimir Putin and the entire NATO bloc.
Same day reporting by the Associated Press cited the source of the information as officials from the Polish government itself, yet the article immediately correlated the causation of the attack to Russia as it quoted Ukraine’s Zelensky, who took advantage of the opportunity to call the event “a very significant escalation” of the war.
AP’s messaging on the nature of the matter was highly ambivalent.
While in the next paragraph it stated, “Serious questions about the explosion remain, including who fired the missile. Russia denied any involvement,” just three paragraphs later the outlet claimed, “a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press that Russian missiles had crossed into Polish territory and killed two people.”
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The outlet noted that the Polish Foreign Ministry had “identified the weapon as being made in Russia” and that President Andrzej Duda wasn’t willing to go any farther than to say the missiles were “most probably” Russian made.
AP nested the caveat, “Poland’s statement did not address whether the strike could have been a targeting error or if the missile could have been knocked off course by Ukrainian defenses,” well into the article.
Adding, “In their statements, Poland and NATO used language that suggested they were not treating the missile blast as an intentional Russian attack, at least for now.”
Open source forensics
Although the narrative in the establishment west’s messaging outlets was as one sided as usual on the war, the online open source intelligence community was substantially more evidence based.
An account on Elon Musk’s Twitter called the Ukraine Weapons Tracker, first formed in February of 2022, stated that based on photographs available of fragments of the missile strike, the group “came to a clear conclusion that they belong to the 48D6 motor of the 5V55-series missile of the S-300 AD system- a Ukrainian one.”
The outlet said they drew the conclusions with the creator of the Fenix Insight munitions database Neil Gibson.
The UWT added, “Although other missile types (48N6-series and possibly others) also use a very similar design, these aren’t available to Ukrainian forces.”
While adding the disclaimer, “It’s important to note here that this ID is only of this fragment; we can’t be sure if nothing else landed or precisely how this happened.”
YouTube commentator Jackson Hinkle chimed in on the issue, noting that a Ukrainian military Telegram channel confirmed the UWT’s analysis, adding that the S-300 air defense fragments fell together with a Russian cruise missile, which Ukraine was attempting to shoot down.
Brian Suits from KTTH Seattle likewise noted that although Russia utilizes the same system, its war front is in Eastern Ukraine, “Theirs are 100s miles to the East, far out of range.”
Hinkle took the opportunity to remind his audience of an event that occurred early in the war when a missile hit a residential apartment building in Kiev, an event which was widely used to accuse Russia of war crimes.
It was later revealed that the weapon which struck the building was actually an anti-air missile fired by the Ukraine Armed Forces, which had malfunctioned and amounted to friendly fire.
ABC News broadcast a clip of President Biden speaking to the media on the topic, where he stated that it was “unlikely” that the missile was fired from Russia.
“There is plenty of information to contest that. I don’t want to say until we completely investigate. It’s unlikely in the minds of [sic] the trajectory that it was fired from Russia. But we’ll see,” Biden stated.
When the news hit, stocks in defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies rapidly increased by roughly 2 percent, while the SPX500 and Nasdaq indexes lost close to the same amount in the course of less than an hour.
WTI crude oil used the opportunity to complete a close to 5 percent rally, which had been underway since the beginning of the trading session, while gold gained 1 percent.
The gains and losses were, for the most part, erased before the end of the trading day.